Lightning Bug Return From Oblivion With New Album ‘No Paradise,’ Lead Single “December Song”

The critically-adored indie rock band Lightning Bug have chose to self release their latest record | Ingmar Chen, courtesy of the artist

Audrey Kang’s ethereal indie-rock project Lightning Bug have shared their first new music in nearly three years, announcing No Paradise (May 2) alongside the video for its mythic lead single, “December Song.”

Press notes on the record quote the poet Louise Glück—“Whatever / returns from oblivion / returns to find a voice,” she once wrote—and describes No Paradise as the band’s own return from oblivion. The nature of that oblivion isn’t ours to understand, aside from allusions to beauty and darkness, violence and its resulting emotional impact craters. Rather than spell it out for us, singer and songwriter Kang transmutes her journey into No Paradise, the band’s fourth album, and their first since leaving their label—Oxford, Mississippi’s Fat Possum Records, who released 2021’s A Color of the Sky—to go independent. 

In our first preview of No Paradise, Kang and her allies Kevin Copeland (guitar, bass), Logan Miley (cello, synth) and Dane Hagen (percussion) render what Kang calls a “deep personal winter in the midst of high summer.” A triple helix of piano, guitar and synth arpeggios leads us into Kang’s meditations on the passing of time and its attendant pains and pleasures, as Miley’s keening cello and Hagen’s patient drums reinforce her search for purpose: “I wish the gods would turn me into a tree / But keep my mind distinct, alive and free / My trunk will thicken with ring after ring / My fingertips will blossom in the spring.”

“December Song” is beautiful, yet quietly heartbreaking, like the first budding flower of spring poking its fragile head through deep snows—Kang’s songwriting, and her band’s tuned-in support of same, fits personal anguish into a universal framework, creating tender art-rock balladry you feel deep in your chest, whether you understand why or not. Kang wrote, directed and shot the “December Song” music video on the Greek island of Andros. She also stars in it, dancing, then doing battle with the wind, illustrating the ways that forces beyond our control or understanding can bring both joy and loss into our lives.

“I’d just gotten back to New York City after spending every last droplet of energy I had on riding a motorcycle from Nayarit to NYC. When the trip was over, I fell into the lowest low I’ve known,” Kang recalls in a statement. “‘December Song’ was my way of giving my life some meaning again, by thinking of my sadness as part of a story, a season. In the song, I retell the myth of Persephone from the perspective of Demeter as she awaits her daughter’s return to a land made barren with grief.”

Lightning Bug recorded No Paradise in Arlington, Vermont, with a focus on self-sufficiency and autonomy. Beyond contributions from Allegra Krieger and Woody Ray (backing vocals on “The Withering” and additional production on “Morrow Song,” respectively), the band play, produce and engineer the entire album themselves, with mixing from Miley. Copeland even built the studio where they recorded it.

It’s not yet clear whether Lightning Bug will tour in support of No Paradise, but here’s hoping for a Sunshine State stop if so. In the meantime, you can preorder the album here and see the tracklist below.

No Paradise Tracklist:

1. On Paradise

2. The Quickening

3. The Flowering

4. The Withering

5. Opus

6. December Song

7. Serenade

8. Lullaby for Love

9. I Feel…

10. Morrow Song

11. Just Above My Head

12. No Paradise

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